Botanical illustration in The Flora of South Africa, vol. 4 Germany South Africa

Plate 11 of <i>The Flora of South Africa</i>
Plate 11 of <i>The Flora of South Africa</i>

Custodian: University of Glasgow Library Special Collections

Reference: Special Collections RQ 449

Colour plate 11 of Phoenix reclinata by P. McManus appears in Rudolf Marloth, The Flora of South Africa, Capetown: 1913–32, vol. 4.

Phoenix reclinata, also known as Wild date palm or Senegal date palm, is native to tropical Africa, Madagascar and the Comoro Islands. It can be found between sea level and 3000m in rain forest clearings, monsoonal forests and on rocky mountainsides.

It is a very useful tree: the fruit and palm heart can be eaten; the sap can be tapped to make palm wine; young, unopened leaves can be made into fibre from which carpets, and brooms are made; and a brown dye can be made from the the tannin-rich roots, which also produce an edible gum.

German-born pharmacist, analytical chemist and botanist Rudolf Marloth (1855–1931) is best known for The Flora of South Africa

Marloth studied pharmacy in his home town Lübben, Germany and in Berlin, and worked in Germany and Switzerland before arriving in South Africa in 1883. There he worked first as a pharmacist and began undertaking plant-collecting trips. He later taught at the Department of Chemistry at Victoria College and at Elsenburg Agricultural School as well as acting as a consultant analytical chemist.